Doctors see more heart attacks, strokes on bad air quality days

Local News

The hundreds of wildfires across the state have brought hazardous air conditions to Kern County, and doctors say on smoggy days, there is a direct relation to more heart attacks and strokes.

Many doctors equate the longterm effects of inhaling bad air to smoking cigarettes, but there are also more immediate effects.

“When we have bad air days, incidents of heart attacks and strokes go up,” said Dr. Brij Bhambi, the Chief Medical Officer at Bakersfield Heart Hospital.

The buildup of pollution particles also leads to higher rates of diabetes and hypertension, doctors say. Therefore, the expert advice, same as for COVID, is to stay inside.

“Cut down the exposure during the daytime as much as possible, because a lot of these toxic gases are more prevalent when the sun is there, so like from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.” said Dr. Mushtaq Ahmed, the pulmonary critical care specialist at San Joaquin Valley Medical Group.

This air pollution is largely attributed to the major wildfires that have erupted across the state. Bakersfield Fire just sent one engine to the SCU Complex fire in the Bay Area, and Kern County Fire sent dozens of personnel as well..

“We have to take a look at what we have for the City of Bakersfield, and then we say, we have this many resources available to the state or to any local agencies,” explained Bakersfield Fire battalion chief, Mike Walkley.

As for how long the air will look like this?

Heather Heinks with the Valley Air District said, “Pretty much don’t have an end in sight until those fires are extinguished.”

Ultimately, if you have to go out during the day, experts say you should at least wear an N95 mask. If you don’t have an N95, make sure your mask is fitted properly, covering all areas around your face.

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